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Success of Pender Pediatric Spreads by Word of Mouth in Burgaw

How a speech therapy practice is helping Burgaw locals, one family at a time.

When Courtney Gibbs realized the scarcity of pediatric services in Burgaw, she created a practice that would target those needs and has since expanded into something much more. 

A speech therapist by trade, Gibbs began her work as an independent contractor. As she partnered with local preschools, early intervention agencies and local school systems, she discovered what was missing in Burgaw and created Pender Pediatric Therapy in 2016. 

A different, holistic approach

The therapy center has expanded rapidly since opening, moving between three different locations before finally settling into its current home at 101 E. Satchwell Street. In February 2021, Gibbs brought on another Speech-Language Pathologist (Ruth Gates) to help meet the needs of the community. 

Their practice sees a range of ages from babies to teens and an array of needs from general speech delays, difficulty producing speech sounds, and help for those considered “late talkers.” They also work with a variety of children with developmental delays such as autism, cerebral palsy, and hypoxia, as well as other diagnoses and behavioral concerns. 

Pender Pediatric also employs Robin Dunbar, a long-term client turned office manager. Dunbar, who’s son is on the autism spectrum, provides a beacon of hope for other parents. As Gibbs explains, the early stages of intervention are often fraught with uncertainty for parents. 

In the cases where parents do get an autism diagnosis, Gibbs can say, “go talk to Robin”. 

Dunbar is a parent who has lived it, and who openly shares her son’s experiences, set-backs, and progress with those who have just started the journey. It’s clear Dunbar loves what she does, especially her ability to quiet parents’ nerves when their kids are (sometimes quite literally) “off the wall”. 

“This is the one place that they don’t have to be on edge,” Dunbar said, “A grocery store is stressful, a restaurant is stressful, going clothes shopping is stressful… but not here. Here it doesn’t matter. Here it’s fine. Here it’s expected.”

It’s perhaps this holistic approach to care that drives Pender Pediatric’s success in Burgaw: a community where word of mouth is everything. 

“The work we do here – not only with our children but with our families, and how they’re treated – it’s really important to us because it’s through their experiences people are going to hear about us,” Gibbs said. 

Bringing speech therapy to the community

Pender Pediatric is providing care that would have previously required a commute to Wilmington. 

“I’m a big believer in the idea that if it doesn’t work for the whole family, then it just doesn’t work and it’s not going to work,” Gibbs said. With some children needing services two to three times a week, that drive could often become care-prohibitive. Having these services at home means more children in the area can get the care they need, without an unnecessary strain on the family.

Caring for the whole family is at the heart of everything Pender Pediatric does, which means services are not confined to the center. Gibbs spends time just up the road at Little Town Learning Center, and partners with Creative Hands for Occupational Therapy. Pender Pediatric also has a contract with Children’s Developmental Services – a state-run, early intervention agency. 

Their coaching model brings Pender Pediatric into the home, where Gibbs and Gates work with parents and children in what Gibbs calls “Family-Centered Therapy”. 

“I don’t want the parents to just have their role be transportation,” Gibbs said, “I want them to be involved, know what we’re working on, and how we’re working on it…it’s got to be in all aspects of their lives.” 

Gibbs carries this ideal with her in all of her work, making it a point to get out into the community whenever necessary. She’ll take clients grocery shopping, to the park, to McDonald’s play place, or even to get a haircut. 

“If that’s what [the family] needs help with, I’m going to try and make it functional,” she said.

Making Burgaw a better place

That level of care and commitment has not gone unnoticed by the town of Burgaw. As Gibbs puts it, Pender Pediatric has “only been able to work with all these other organizations to expand our services because our families show us so much love.” 

Pender Pediatric has a bottom line to their care that helps put families at ease. 

“We’re not here to put a label on anything, we’re not here to judge your parenting style, we don’t care what you did last night… we’re just here to help your child and it’s as simple as that,” she said. 


Learn more about Pender Pediatric at if you are interested in their services or would like to learn more.


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